Livan Hernandez hasn’t pitched since 2012, but he hadn’t officially retired yet. Now he will reports Bill Ladson of MLB.com. The official papers will be filed and Hernandez’s playing career will, administratively speaking, be no more.
Hernandez pitched for 17 seasons in the big leagues, compiling a record of 178-177 with an ERA of 4.44. While he made the All-Star team twice and was a playoff hero in 1997 for the Marlins, he was basically an innings-eater. You could do well if he was in the back of the rotation throwing 200+ innings a year, but if he was your top starter you were kinda screwed. There’s a lot of value in that, even if it isn’t always pretty.
Of course, despite all of that, Hernandez is probably best known for Game 5 of the 1997 NLCS in which he “struck out” 16 Atlanta Braves batters. He had a bit of an assist, of course, from home umpire Eric Gregg:
Which, to this day, had to be the worst job of home plate umpiring in baseball history. I was livid at the time, but since then I’ve just grown amused by it all. Really, good for Hernandez. Unless he paid off Gregg, he didn’t ask for that zone. He merely observed that he was getting it and pitched to the spot he was given over and over again. Sure, the spot was a foot outside or more, but the reason for that is between Eric Gregg and his god.
A god which the late Gregg is likely sitting next to right now, laughing his butt off about that 1997 NLCS, up in Umpire Heaven.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.